The beginning of the universe was a supernatural event, as only something that transcends time, space and matter could cause it to happen. Secondly, if the supernatural is real, then the existence of disembodied spirits is possible. If we are not our physical bodies, then a spiritual realm is more probable than improbable. And it’s more likely this realm filled with spiritual entities would be created by an Intelligent Designer sans/universe and before the creation of earthly creatures. As human beings, despite our many follies, we are also extremely intelligent creatures. Our alleged chimpanzee ‘cousins’ (who don’t believe in angels) spend most of their time picking fleas off each other’s backs, eating bugs, copulating and sleeping. In extreme contrast, we paint Sistine Chapels and compose Mozart’s Requiem, fly robots to Mars, use Skype to talk to loved ones at the other side of the world, fall in love and bury our dead.
The atheist philosopher, David Hume, said if rational people have a choice to believe more than one explanation of an event, they should choose to believe that explanation which is most probable. Hume would argue that such a supernatural event of an angelic encounter, by definition, is unbelievable. For Hume, an encounter with an angel would be a violation of the laws of nature. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, he writes: “There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.”
Of course, Hume isn’t offering a proof; he is offering a rule: Noting outside what he takes to be nature can be credited in principle, and at that point, evidence doesn’t really come into it.
There are other problems, as Francis goes on to note.
Note: Many astute Christians have managed simply by accepting the existence of angels as set out in Scripture but avoiding all popular malarky and angelic kitsch. If an angel had business with us, we wouldn’t be able to get away anyhow.
See also: An editor and journalist reflects on the absurdity of naturalism